Stormzy has been celebrated in Westminster as one of the rappers “calling out Grenfell Britain in gut-wrenching prose”.
Kensington’s new MP Emma Dent Coad hailed the work of Kensington’s own “poet laureates”, which include hip hop artists Akarla, AJ Tracey, Lowkey, Peaky and Potent Whisper.
She also slammed the area’s “philistine council” which, she said, “does not recognise their talent” but spent £30m over two decades on outdoor opera for an elite “minority” at Holland Park.
It comes after the catastrophic Grenfell Tower blaze claimed the lives of at least 80 of the borough’s poorest residents and the community struggles to get back on its feet.
“At times of national disaster, poet laureates are often called upon to commemorate and reflect upon events,” Labour’s Dent Coad told MPs during a Parliamentary debate on the fire.
“In North Kensington, we have our own Ben Johnsons and Alfred Lord Tennysons. Our poet laureates are Akarla, AJ Tracey, Lowkey, Peaky. We have Stormzy and Potent Whisper calling out what he calls Grenfell Britain in gut-wrenching prose.
“We have poets and artists aplenty but the council does not recognise their talent.”
She went on to attack Kensington and Chelsea Council.
The authority’s new leader, Elizabeth Campbell, admitted the authority had to match words with “action” to regain trust during a BBC interview, in which she conceded she had never been inside a tower block.
Dent Coad said: “The philistine council would rather spend £30m on opera for a minority in Holland Park over 20 years.”
She hit out at the council’s spending, claiming it “has for many years mis-spent Government and council tax payers’ funds on countless vanity projects and handouts while underfunding essential services”.
The “horrific” fire “must be a game changer”, the west London MP added, as she called the “lack of care and respect” for survivors unacceptable.
She called the response of the council “shockingly inadequate, possibly even criminally neglectful, we shall see”, adding: “Where is the accountability?”
A man looks at Grenfell Tower from a platform at Latimer Road tube station
Fundamental change, she argued, was clearly needed as she called for outside intervention.
Dent Coad described how survivors and volunteers were asking where the money “so generously” donated by the public was.
The MP criticised the housing assistance for those affected, branding the “reactive, not proactive” process “chaotic”, adding that there seemed to be no co-ordination.
Emma Dent Coad with Jeremy Corbyn at Grenfell Tower
She said: “Where is the wraparound support for bereaved and desperate people still staying in hotels, as the much-trumpeted high-quality temporary accommodation has been unsuitable or not materialised at all.”
Dent Coad added: “Some near-neighbours in blocks are too scared to return, they say they hear ghosts and they hear screaming.”
She went on: “Frankly this continuing disaster and lack of care and respect for survivors is unacceptable.
“Will the Government continue to let the council fail their survivors in so many ways?”
The Department of Communities and Local Government has promised cash for survivors to help them rebuild their lives and has sent in a taskforce to assist the local authority.